The evaluation sought to gain a better understanding of issues and experiences related to the delivery of 1140 hours of ELC. It did not aim to provide an evaluation of 1140 hours on child and parent outcomes or to predict what will happen once the expansion has been rolled out. It does however, provide a useful source of evidence drawn from a range of sources that highlights some of the positive benefits, the challenges and learning points that can be used to inform the next steps in the delivery process.
Regarding the positive benefits, evidence provided within the report highlights the following:
- A number of trials were able to demonstrate positive and nurturing relationships between staff, parents/carers and children, with some reporting fewer child absences from their ELC provider. In particular, family workshops were reported to be having a positive effect on parents/carers' ability to support their child's learning at home.
- Parents/carers tended to speak positively about the perceived impact of the extended hours on their child's learning and behaviour through increased access to opportunities including access to outdoor learning.
- Staff reported increased opportunities for improved partnership working and community capacity building as well as enhanced opportunities for professional learning and leadership roles.
The evaluation also highlights some useful learning which can support future delivery as the expansion is rolled out, including:
- Clear and meaningful communication to parents/carers on the positive benefits of the funded entitlement for their children is key, alongside clear process guidelines on how to register and reassurance on what take up of the entitlement means for them.
- A continued focus on high quality professional learning for the existing and new ELC workforce is essential. Sufficient time should be built in to recruit qualified staff, and continued engagement with the workforce is important when changing work patterns to accommodate additional hours
- Several trials commented very positively about working with childminders, however time should be built in for recruitment, logistics planning and communicating the offer to parents/carers to increase uptake.
- Consulting with parents/carers on the flexibility of the offer gave them a positive sense of ownership over the provision, and in some cases revealed that certain offers may not be popular and therefore not viable.
- There are clear benefits of continued sharing of practice within and across local authorities as the expansion of ELC continues, as well as a focus on continuous improvement throughout the expansion period and beyond.